True or False? You can’t go home again
For a period of four hours, I sat in a temporary house structure in the sculpture garden of the Katonah Museum of Art, inviting museum visitors to chat with me about their understanding of the phrase, “You can’t go home again.” I was surprised by the great diversity of interpretations and grateful for the willingness of the participants to reminisce and/or share their philosophical reflections. When appropriate, I shared my personal connection to the phrase:
I have always understood the metaphorical implications of this oft-used sentence. However, the literal meaning has always felt very relevant to me. My childhood home was in a rough, urban neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, and I was happy to have left – at the age of sixteen – and happy to have stayed away ever since. After all, what possible value could there be in returning to the site of the economic struggles of my family and the racial tensions of our community? Recently, on a whim, I decided to look at my old residence (7436 S. Colfax Avenue), using Google Street Map. I was absolutely shocked to see that the apartment building that I had called “home” for a very formative period in my life was now abandoned and boarded up. I was physically sickened by the image, and this reaction has made me wonder: on some deep, psychological level, had I always held on to the possibility of going home again?
At the conclusion of each encounter, I took some time to explain that this project is part of an on-going series of interactive performances intended to remind people of the power and beauty of interacting directly, without the use of screens.